People’s purchase decisions are more informed than ever before. Buyers not around waiting for a company to give them the data they need. They’re conducting extensive, personalized research before speaking to any sales professional. Brand advocates can influence those decisions, cultivating brand loyalty, and generating an abundance of qualified leads through social engagement.
Like Green Bay Packers cheese heads, advocates are highly vocal fans and evangelists who help spread the gospel because of their positive experiences.
But since advocacy marketing is such a new and unfamiliar venture, few businesses understand how to get this program up and running. Given the strategic potential and lack of familiarity most businesses have with this tool, Fanatics Media CEO Mark Fidelman sat down via Blab.Im on October 7th with Mark Organ, Bo Bandy, and Paul Hetherington to discuss how to build an advocate community that drives revenue.
- Mark Organ is the founder and CEO to Influitive; a company that specializes in mobilizing brand advocates for businesses. Having overseen the implementation of countless advocate communities, Mark’s intimate understanding of consumers’ complex psychologies gives him a unique and powerful edge within the world of digital marketing.
- Bo Bandy is the Director of Marketing for ReadyTalk, which makes webinar and collaboration software. The company is using Influitive’s AdvocateHub software for their award-winning Summit Club advocate marketing program and community. Bo was previously the day-to-day administrator of the Summit Club and offers pragmatic insights for implementing a successful hub.
- Paul Hetherington, the Chief Revenue Officer for iCompass Technologies Inc., is running the ClerkOn advocate marketing program and community, which has become a critical component of Paul’s marketing and customer engagement strategy.
Take a look at the fantastic insights this group was able to divulge from their conversation.
What is the Key Component to Advocacy Marketing?
Advocacy marketing can be a tremendous tool for many businesses, but it is not necessary for all of them. Mark sought to get to the bottom of who could prosper most by asking his guests, “What Business scenarios call for advocate marketing?”
Paul stated that advocacy marketing is greatly beneficial in any situation where businesses seek to reduce customer acquisition costs. He went on to state that when consumers gain first-hand experience with a company’s authenticity, their transition from consumer to advocate is accelerated. People will tell the masses about a company they believe in, so our job as marketers is to make it easy for them to do so, en masse.
Tangible Benefits & Measurement
Measuring the tangible benefits of advocacy marketing can be a bit difficult at times. Mark presented this to his prestigious panel: “How do you value the advocate community, and more importantly how do you measure that value and report it?”
Mark Organ was the first to chime in, stating that measurement does not always need to be in concrete numbers as the goals for businesses vary. Some seek customer stories, others reviews, and some are after social buzz. As far as Influitive is concerned, “We start with referrals because referrals are an easier thing to value.”
While both Paul and Bo agreed with Mark on this, Bo also pointed out that measuring the amount of sourced content material that can be extracted from community hubs is also a valuable metric.
Remaining in the same vein, Mark asked, “What is it specifically that this community is doing for you guys in terms of generating revenue or leads or awareness?”
Bo responded: “Customer referrals are huge. The extension on social, the number of impressions that we can drive through our advocates is, if I had to give you a number, probably 30 or 40x what we can do ourselves.”
Through gaining a team of advocates, a company’s message can echo across the web with far greater reach than with traditional marketing alone. The number of individuals a group of advocates is capable of reaching grows exponentially with each new advocate.
One of the biggest pain-points for many businesses is identifying potential advocates. Mark Fidelman posed the issue to the panel this way: “What are the best strategies for recruiting advocates?”
Mark Organ is a proponent of going after those who are already talking about a brand on social media; these folks are already singing a brand’s praises and will likely be easy to recruit. Additionally, he says that recruiting customer service people to help identify advocates and incentivizing through a competition or rewards system can be highly fruitful.
Bo offered the solution of customer surveys; he has found these provide irreplaceable insights into consumer behaviors that can help quickly convert customers to advocates, when properly addressed.
Referring to advocate engagement, Mark queried his panel: “What is the top challenge or campaign you’ve run with advocates that you feel really moved the needle from the start?”
Bo declared, “We give our advocates the opportunity to be a reference for us. They love to talk to our prospects. They love to help us sell and close deals. So anytime we can bring them into that, obviously it’s a win for us, but they really, really enjoy doing it.”
Mark Organ responded: “The best thing we’ve ever seen is when we put advocates in teams in a competition. It drives both the need to socialize and the need to meet one another, which is a reason of why people join advocate programs.”
The panel shared many more valuable insights into advocacy marketing during the one-hour discussion. For a deeper look into this strategy, check out the full video or send us an email and we can help you get started with your own advocate marketing community.